Album of the Year and Record of the Year — the Difference Between the 2 Grammy Awards Explained

Ahead of the 2020 Grammy Awards, we’re breaking down the difference between two of the award show’s biggest categories: Record of the Year and Album of the Year. Ahead, learn what differentiates the awards from one another, plus find out who is among the performing artists nominated in both categories. 

How does an album qualify for Album of the Year? 

According to the Grammy Awards official website, for an album to be eligible for Album of the Year it has to meet a few requirements per the guidelines established by the Recording Academy’s Awards Department. To be considered, an album has to have a minimum of five different tracks and a total playing time of 15 minutes or have a total playing time of 30 minutes or more with no set number of tracks. 

Notice on the complete list of Grammy nominees, at the top of the categories before the list of nominees, there’s a short description about the award and how it’s determined.

Adele poses with her Grammy awards on Feb. 12, 2012, during the Grammy Awards
Adele poses with her Grammy awards on Feb. 12, 2012, during the Grammy Awards | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

For instance, Album of the Year is given to any artist, featured artist, or songwriter “of new material,” producer, recording engineer, mixer, and mastering engineer “credited with at least 33% playing time of the album.”

Basically, Album of the Year is awarded to those who worked on a series of tracks. 

What is Record of the Year and how is it different from Album of the Year?

Don’t let this category conjure up images of record players or a vinyl collection. In this instance, as it pertains to Record of the Year, record actually means song. Think of a record as a single or one song. The award is given based on production and performance. 

Wait. So, how is Record of the Year different from Song Of The Year? This one had us confused too, especially after learning Record of the Year goes to one song just like Song Of The Year. According to the Grammy Awards official website, Song Of The Year is for songwriters given to those who release a track or single within a certain time period. For 2020’s Grammy Awards, the eligibility period is Oct. 1, 2018, to Aug. 31, 2019.

Album of the Year nominees

Nominees in this category include: 

I,I

Bon Iver

Norman F***ing Rockwell!

Lana Del Rey

When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

Billie Eilish

Thank U, Next

Ariana Grande

I Used To Know Her

H.E.R.

7

Lil Nas X

Cuz I Love You (Deluxe)

Lizzo

Father of the Bride

Vampire Weekend

Record of the Year Nominees

Nominees in this category include: 

“Hey, Ma”

Bon Iver

“Bad Guy”

Billie Eilish

7 Rings
Ariana Grande

“Hard Place”
H.E.R

“Talk”
Khalid

“Old Town Road”
Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus

“Truth Hurts”
Lizzo

“Sunflower”
Post Malone and Swae Lee

Watch the biggest night in music aka the Grammy Awards Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. EST on CBS and know the difference between Album of the Year and Record of the Year.